One constant in my life has been Hip Hop. I bought the Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five album The Message on cassette when I was 12, and nearly choked when a twentysomething on Twitter recently told me that people should check out Ja Rule because he’s ‘old school’. Classic hip hop artists are still around, and giving back to communities in ways that deserve more press, and one such musical legend is Doug E. Fresh (although anyone who has rapped on stage with Prince is a legend in my eyes). Read on to hear more about the latest from Fresh’s nonprofit Hip Hop Public Health.
Last month Hip Hop Public Health released Move-to-Improve World Beats NYC, an album inspired by music and rhythms from some of the diverse communities that call New York City home. Produced in collaboration with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of School Wellness Programs, the album will accompany the Move-to-Improve program that is used by more than 70% of elementary schools in the largest public school system in the United States. The free Move-to-Improve program is designed to get students out of their seats and moving in class, building on the skills they learn in physical education and other subjects.
“No doubt, music has always been transformational. When we engage youth in a relatable way, we see an incredible effect on their lifestyles and in the way they learn,” says the legendary rapper and founding artist Doug E. Fresh, who established the nonprofit in 2006 with Columbia University’s Chief of Staff of Neurology, Dr. Olajide Williams.
Hip Hop Public Health has reached millions of young people with their innovative health literacy tools. “We are dedicated to achieving health equity among youth with a free and expanding media library that is filled with over 100 culturally-tailored and evidence-based resources promoting healthy behaviors for children and their families,” noted Dr. Williams.
“Active kids learn better,” shared Lori Rose Benson, Executive Director and CEO of Hip Hop Public Health. “Our partnership with the NYC Department of Education’s Office of School Wellness Programs is exciting because there is a profound change in the way kids learn when we empower them with culturally-responsive resources and inspire more physical activity throughout the school day.”
Teachers can use upbeat songs from Move-to-Improve World Beats NYC like “NYC Roll Call”— a tribute to the five boroughs — and “Just Move” to motivate and energize young people with aerobic activities. Chill tracks such as “Breathe In, Breathe Out” and “Mindful Beats” are perfect for cool-downs and to focus students for learning. The album features an eclectic mix of Hip Hop, R&B, Reggae, Bollywood, Lo-Fi and Latin-inspired tracks that range from fast-paced tempos to mellow instrumentals.
Lindsey Harr, the Executive Director of School Wellness Programs at the NYC Department of Education shared that “Teachers and principals tell us time and again that they’ve seen the benefits of Move-to-Improve. It helps students feel energized and focused, and it’s a way for elementary schools to make sure their students are getting the physical activity they need every day to be healthy. This music is a wonderful new component of Move-to-Improve – and we’re thrilled that the whole school community, including families, can use it for free.”
The Move-to-Improve: Worlds Beats NYC album is available to anyone for free and the songs can be used for any movement activity — in the classroom, at the gym, after school, and even at home by families.
Move-to-Improve Worlds Beats NYC: Track List
- Breathe In, Breathe Out
- Cross the Line (Jump, Squat & Shake)
- Groove & Flow (Focus Mix)
- Groove & Flow
- Island Hopping
- Just Move
- Mindful Beats
- Move to Improve
- NYC Roll Call
Visit the Hip Hop Public Health Resource Center to download and listen to the full Move-to-Improve World Beats NYC album for free.
The entire school community can also download the album from the NYC Department of Education’s free library – WeTeachNYC and teachers who want to use Move-to-Improve with their students have access to a robust collection of training, activity guides, visual aid cards, posters and other resources designed to help schools implement the program.
I’d like to share a link to my favorite Doug E Fresh track, from 1986….years before that twentysomething was even born!